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Panoptic Enterprises' FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH

DATE: April 25, 2001

SUBJECT: Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 97-27, Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility

SOURCE: Federal Register, April 25, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 80, page 20893

AGENCIES: Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

ACTION: Final Rule

SYNOPSIS: FAC 97-27 is being issued to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires that the FAR be revised to incorporate the electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility standards developed by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

EDITOR'S NOTE: FACs 97-25 and 97-26 have been assigned to other FAR changes, but those FACs have not been finalized. Since the accessibility standards go into effect June 21, 2001, it is imperative that FAC 97-27 not be delayed.

For more on the Compliance Board's EIT accessibility standards, see the December 21, 2000, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board; Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards."

For more on the proposed rule, see the January 22, 2001, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility."

DATES: The effective date for FAC 97-27 is June 25, 2001, and it applies to all contracts awarded on or after that date except for indefinite-quantity contracts. FAC 97-27 applies to delivery orders or task orders issued under indefinite-quantity contracts on or after the effective date. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The introduction to FAC 97-27 states, "Indefinite-quantity contracts may include Federal Supply Schedule contracts, governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs), multi-agency contracts (MACs), and other interagency acquisitions.")

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Linda Nelson, Procurement Analyst, 202-501-1900. Cite FAC 97-27, FAR case 1999-607, when referring to this final rule.

For general information, contact the FAR Secretariat, Room 4035, GS Building, Washington, DC 20405, 202-501-4755.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: On August 7, 1998, President Clinton signed the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-220), which included the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Subsection 408(b) of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require that when federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use EIT, that they make sure that the EIT allows federal employees with disabilities to have comparable access to and use of information as other federal employees. Section 508 also requires that individuals with disabilities who are members of the public seeking information or services from a federal agency have comparable access to and use of information and data as those without disabilities. However, comparable access is not required if it would impose an undue burden.

On December 21, 2000, the Compliance Board published the final EIT accessibility standards and the technical and functional performance criteria necessary for accessibility for such technology (Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1194, Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards). The amended Section 508 requires that the FAR implement the standards within six months of their publication -- that is, June 21, 2001. Therefore, the FAR Council published a proposed rule on January 22, 2001, to add FAR Subpart 39.X, Electronic and Information Technology, to implement the Compliance Board's rule. Based on comments, the final rule is largely as proposed except that the discussion of the applicability of the rule has been expanded (FAR 39.203, Applicability).

The following are the key provisions of FAC 97-27 (differences between the proposed and final rules are in brackets ("[ ]"):

EDITOR'S NOTE: There are several other comments in the FAC 97-27 introduction that bear quoting:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Panoptic Enterprises at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to Panoptic@FedGovContracts.com.

Copyright 2001 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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